Hamilton AI (1977), Expanded Duties: An Economic Fallacy, Operative Dentistry, 2(1) 1-2.
Expanded Duties: An Economic Fallacy
Increased productivity and lower prices are worthy aims for any economy. Over the years industry has adopted various methods to achieve these objectives. Dentistry, though a profession, is no less obliged to do likewise.
Recently it has been recommended that some of the tasks of operative dentistry, such as placing and finishing restorations of amalgam and composite resin, be assigned to dental auxiliary personnel, with the idea that this will increase productivity and lower costs. The proponents of expanded duties-mainly government employees and academics-already have spent enormous sums of money to demonstrate that dental assistants and hygienists can in fact learn to perform these operations. Much of this research, however, was unnecessary because it had already been shown, in the 1920s in New Zealand and in the 1960s in Britain, that within a period of two years young women can be taught to give prophylaxes, prepare cavities, place restorations of amalgam and silicate, extract teeth for children, and provide education for patients. Moreover, the quality of the treatment has been shown to compare favorably with that provided by dentists. This information was readily available and, had it been consulted, much costly research could have been avoided.